Stop Calling U.S. Christian Lawmakers the ‘Taliban’

I saw it on posters last summer at the Texas capitol, during protests against the state’s omnibus anti-abortion law: “TEXAS TALIBAN.” I’ve heard pundits and preachers on cable news, decrying the “American Taliban” that wants to take away birth control and abortion access.

These phrases aren’t clever, and they aren’t insightful. They’re racist, and they’re Islamophobic, and people—especially white people—who work in social justice movements and who do advocacy for women’s rights need to stop using them yesterday.

Because there is indeed a powerful, well-funded and rigidly patriarchal religious movement behind America’s most misogynist laws, and it isn’t any iteration of Islam.

It’s Christianity.

There’s no need to try and incite fear that right-wing lawmakers are going to turn America into an extremist Islamic theocracy when they’re doing just fine turning it into an extremist Christian theocracy. The answer to countering right-wing attacks on Americans with uteri isn’t to create a turban-wearing bogeyman looming half a world away, but to look at what’s happening right here in our own country, in our own statehouses, at our own national capitol.

I seem to remember someone once saying something about removing the plank from your own eye before trying to pluck a splinter out of someone else’s.

I’ve followed the “Holly Hobby Lobby” meme with eyes rolling hard, as lefty Americans work themselves into a froth about a young white American woman holding a rifle and a bible. But what’s scary about that photo isn’t that the woman pictured is echoing the posture of an Islamic extremist, it’s that she’s using a rifle and a bible to advocate for government-sanctioned misogyny. American government-sanctioned misogyny.

The five judges who joined the majority opinion on Hobby Lobby aren’t Muslim. They’re Catholic. So are Rick Santorum and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). Rep. Louie “Terror Babies” Gohmert (R-TX) is a Southern Baptist, and so is Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) attends an evangelical megachurch, and Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R) is also an evangelical Christian. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) is a member of the Church of God. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is a Presbyterian.

The call is coming from inside the house, y’all.

We need to ask ourselves: What’s wrong with our own American Christianity that we are unable to face the very real fact that we are perfectly capable of using our own Christian traditions to oppress the most vulnerable among us?

There have been a grand total of two Muslim Americans elected to the United States Congress—the first in 2007. Islam, and its many variants, are not a threat to the U.S. legislative system. American lawmakers didn’t learn misogyny from Muslim extremists in Afghanistan—we grew it ourselves, right here on American soil. We’ve baked it into every slice of the American pie.

To fixate on an “American Taliban” is to derail an important and necessary conversation about the ways Christianity has been used, and continues to be used, as an excuse and a means to oppress and marginalize American citizens, right here on our own turf.

A Texas protester holds "Stop Texas Taliban" sign at a Planned Parenthood rally in Austin, Texas, in March 2012. [via Jessica Luther]

A Texas protester holds “Stop Texas Taliban” sign at a Planned Parenthood rally in Austin, Texas, in March 2012. [via Jessica Luther]

The reality is that words mean things—if that sounds pedantic and obvious, consider the fact that people who don’t agree with me are going to claim I’m getting all riled up about something that’s no big deal, while they fight tooth and nail to say these things without being criticized.

Words express shared cultural ideas, and to pretend that “American Taliban” or “Texas Taliban” are just cute accidents of speech, or innocent verbal shorthand, is to ignore the very real history of organized, politically endorsed, and perpetuated systemic racism expressly meant to oppress and silence a particular group of non-white folks, both inside and outside the United States.

It’s no accident that, in the vast and varied religio-cultural landscape of planet Earth, which offers no shortage of examples of misogynist ideologies, Americans choose “Taliban” when they want to try and insult right-wing lawmakers, and try to incite their fellow citizens to action against those lawmakers. Because 9/11. Because the war in Iraq. Because racism. Because brown people from the Middle East are, more than any other people, the “baddies” right now in American culture.

The result? Widespread American Islamophobia, a fear of the millions of Muslims who call this country home. Anti-Muslim violence in America is a very real problem, as the Los Angeles Times reported way back in 2010:

Law enforcement authorities in California classified the vandalism at the Madera Islamic Center in the Central Valley that nearly smashed a window as a hate crime when they discovered signs that read “Wake up America the enemy is here” and “No temple for the god of terrorism.” In New York, an intoxicated man forced his way into a mosque in Queens and urinated on several prayer rugs. Michael Enright, a 21-year-old New York film student, is being charged with attempted murder in connection with the stabbing of a Muslim cab driver. The act has been classified as a hate crime.

Maybe you’re not the kind of American who’s going to plant a pipe bomb at a mosque, but when you try and foment fear by hollering “AMERICAN TALIBAN!” at the top of your lungs, you give those who might an awful lot of culturally sanctioned leeway to try.

Muslim Americans, and people who are perceived to be Muslim Americans, are singled out at airport checkpoints and targeted in domestic spying operations. Women who wear hijab in public are ridiculed and harassed. And every cry of “Texas Taliban!” or “American Taliban!” makes it worse, because we do not have, and have never had, a nuanced, thoughtful national conversation about Islam—in part because we usually stop with “Taliban!” and a pat on the back.

Last year, right here in supposedly hyper-liberal Austin, Texas, a Muslim woman named Beeta Baghoolizadeh joined the thousands of Texans who descended upon our state capitol to show support for abortion rights. On her first trip, she accidentally wore blue:

Lest anyone assumed that I was another anti-choice activist—and a Muslim one no less—I quickly created a sign reading “PRETEND I’M WEARING ORANGE.” I wanted to make sure people didn’t conflate my blue outfit with Christian-centric religious arguments. I didn’t need any #creepingsharia tweets with my picture on them.

Later, Baghoolizadeh wrote of another trip to the capitol, wearing an orange scarf, and seeing protesters holding signs “about the Sharia and Taliban taking over Texas.” Afterward, she saw a disturbing image:

It was a picture of woman dressed in a black burqa with a “Miss Texas” sash around her inside the Capitol. It felt like a slap across the face. I had gone to the Capitol wearing an orange scarf–not a black burqa–and was forced to deal with a more intense fast than usual because of my decision to stand for women’s rights, health and engage in the democratic process. In return, I was met with a caricature of a “Muslim woman” to protest the GOP’s [non-Muslim] oppression.

No matter how orange my scarf was that night, people had managed to conflate the politics of the swaying, praying Christian right with “oppressed” Muslim women swathed in black. Suffice to say, this shallow, knee-jerk polemic both disappointed and infuriated me. Indeed, this atrocious bill has given birth to (no pun intended) a number of facile and unfortunate proclamations about the Muslim world.

A pro-choice protester at the Texas state capitol dresses in a burka on July 12, 2013, the day lawmakers voted to pass HB 2. [via Students4LifeHQ on Twitter]

A pro-choice protester at the Texas state capitol dresses in a burka on July 12, 2013, the day lawmakers voted to pass HB 2. [via Students4LifeHQ on Twitter]

We—liberals, progressives, Democrats, social justice activists—cannot believe in systemic oppression only when it suits us, and only when it is perpetuated against the “right” kind of people. We cannot say we are invested in a “big tent,” and then put up a velvet rope, woven of ignorance and fear, at the door.

I mean, we can technically do those things—but only if we’re unwilling to confront the fact that in doing so we are charging admission for our allyship, telling people that they need to be the right color, the right religion, the right sex, the right gender in order to receive our support.

I also see another side to the “American Taliban” rhetoric, one that’s not just racist and Islamophobic but misogynist, one that is about a certain kind of fetishization of the oppression of women of color, about the kind of subconscious work a phrase like “American Taliban” or “Texas Taliban” does for white people: it titillates us, allowing us to imagine ourselves as beneficent saviors of brown-skinned damsels in distress. In the popular American cultural conscience, women of color are particularly situated as sexual objects according to particular racist stereotypes about what it means to be not-white and also a woman—seductive or submissive, aggressive or unrapeable. On the surface, “American Taliban!” centers an imagined male figure, but the reason why the “Taliban!” as a linguistic trope is supposed to incite such fear in the first place is because that imagined male figure is abusing, oppressing, silencing a woman—not just any woman, but a woman of color. A woman who, by virtue of the way she is embodied in the world, we expect to be oppressed, abused, silenced.

We can imagine that woman being oppressed in the way we expect her to be oppressed, and imagine ourselves—Americans wielding lipstick and high heels—as liberators. As if beauty products and fashionable shoes were unknown to Muslim women, and as if wearing lipstick got us government-mandated parental leave, and high heels have earned American women equal pay for equal work.

When a white person cries “Texas Taliban!” or “American Taliban!” what they’re saying is “I thought only brown people deserved to be oppressed.” They’re saying, “My whiteness was supposed to insulate me from things like this.” They’re saying, “I’m afraid—for my privilege.”

But patriarchy and misogyny pay no heed to national borders, and are not uniquely suited to certain geographical climes. They thrive everywhere—including in America, and including in our churches.

And yes, I know, not all Christians. Are there compassionate, loving Christians out there who are deeply invested in committing radical acts of social justice? Absolutely—for reference, see North Carolina’s Moral Monday protests. Are there reasonable Christians out there who believe in science and medicine? Definitely. Are there Christians out there who just like to go to church and do the Jesus thing and have a nice time in fellowship? Indeed; I just described about 99 percent of my relatives.

You might be one or all of these kinds of Christians. If you are, I’m not talking about you. Keep doing that good work you’re doing.

People know what they’re doing when they say “Texas Taliban” or “American Taliban.” Everybody else does, too. That’s why they say it in the first place: They want to make clear that when American lawmakers are bad, they’re imitating brown men on the other side of the world, where the “real” oppression happens. The word “Taliban” conjures up images of brown men wearing turbans, and brown women wearing burkas. Nevermind the fact that white, male Americans are doing just fine at oppressing women with bibles at their right hand. Using “Taliban” rhetoric to describe American politics is a salve that serves only to soothe Americans into dangerous complacency.

If you get to the end of this piece and you’re raring for a fight so that you can continue to holler “Taliban!” every time a white Christian man rails against birth control, I want you to ask yourself: Why am I so invested in being able to continue using this word? Like, really sit with that. If you could never say “American Taliban” or “Texas Taliban” ever again, how would you be unable to do good social justice activism? How would never saying those phrases again impede your ability to help Americans access legal abortion care? Will equal pay, or mandated family leave, become a reality only on the condition that you get to keep saying “Taliban”?

Or will you be able to drop an ignorant, racist dogwhistle that helps no one, hurts many, and does nothing to stop or silence the American Christians behind our country’s worst laws?

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  • Mark

    My black Muslim family members use these phrases – American Taliban, Christian Taliban, etc – so I’ll keep doing so despite the cries of some white girl. Sorry not sorry.

    • BelligerentBruncher

      She’s not just “some white girl.” She’s a concern troll hipster white girl with an anthropology degree. So, it’s like, cool man.

      • vulgarism

        You’re a troll white boy with a degree in vulva’ism. So its like, cool brah:)

        • BelligerentBruncher

          I was 2 credits shy of my vulva’ism degree. So they wouldn’t give it to me. What kind of bullshit is that?

          And someday I hope to grow up and be a troll man, just like my pops.

      • fiona64

        And you’re a pissy little anti-choice teenaged Dudebro troll.

        • BelligerentBruncher

          Thank you.

    • Jumpmaster82

      Dang you just had to go low! Stay focused on the religious aspect of the conversation, PLEASE!

    • roccolore

      And yet you black Muslim family defends the Taliban, Boko Haram, ISIS, and Hamas.

  • RealisticThinker

    Sorry, they made the comparison to HHL because she is the white replica of what the Conservatives say they do not want America to become. The sentiment isn’t that they are worse its that they are the same.

  • Shan

    Call them what they are: Christian Dominionists.

    • Arachne646

      People don’t realize the powerful multi-billionaire people who are powering the movement, either:

      • Shan

        Yup. That’s the ONLY reason I would say “don’t call them Taliban” myself. They need to be called out for what they really are. And people need to know how well-organized and well-funded they are in their objectives.

    • Jumpmaster82

      They like that to be secret, but we’re slowly catching on.

    • goatini

      If your cable or satellite feed includes so-called “God TV”, this is the channel where the worst of the worst of the Dominionists hold forth. They are truly frightening. Especially frightening are their “prophetesses”, labeled as such because their radical cult suffereth not a woman to preach. Cindy Jacobs and Heidi Baker are examples of such, ahem, “prophetesses”. Jacobs is also called an “apostle” by her fellow cultists. Prominent public figures with deep connections to these anti-American radicals include Rick Perry, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich (I guess he’s hedging his bets just in case the Catholics get too “liberal” for him) Michele Bachmann, Sam Brownback, and Ted Cruz.

      • Shan

        Why am I not surprised that Brownback is among them? Ugh.

    • Perr5

      Agreed. Or Christian Supremacists.

      • rose528

        I prefer christian terrorist

    • Anna Sefalik

      The term Christian Dominionist needs to be used more often and explained. I think the term Christian Taliban is shorthand for the same thing: a philosophy that holds that its particular version of a religion ought to be imposed in civil law.

      • Shan

        Yes. One of their really freaky goals, if I understand what I read, is to just overpopulate everyone else, so the Quiverfull Movement people are part of this. They’re people like the Duggars who have a bajillion kids, although since they insist that they are NOT part of of that group, I’m just using them as an example of numbers.

  • jruwaldt

    “Taliban” just means “students.” However, in the U.S. it has become shorthand for theocracy, since that’s what the Afghan theocracy called itself. I don’t think that referring to theocrats as Taliban is inherently Islamophobic. Just as Grimes said “not all Christians,” “not all Muslims” is accurate, too. Theocrats of all kinds are bad, and I doubt whether Muslim theocrats are any worse than Christian ones.

    • Jumpmaster82

      That’s the issue, equality in extreme religious practice now has a new name.
      It’s just the American way of saying we see you.

  • VeggieTart

    The reason people make these comparisons is that these Christian extremists are not much different in their misogyny from Islamic extremists. When we refer to these people as the American Taliban/Christian Taliban, we know all too well that the danger is from within. The comparison is not to bash Islam but to bash ALL people who use religion to spread fear and hatred. And it is to point out that these “Christians” are becoming what they claim to hate.

    • roccolore

      You Democrats are the misogynists.

      • VeggieTart

        Oh, GMAFB. Democrats aren’t the ones who put policies in place that reduce women to second-class status.

        • roccolore

          Democrats are the ones who lecture on equal pay, yet pay women less. Democrats are the ones who defend Bill Maher and Martin Bashir. Democrats are the ones who make excuses for radical Islam while attacking Christianity. Democrats are the ones who wouldn’t allow Ayaan Hirsi Ali to speak at Brandeis. And Democrats think Kermit Gosnell is a hero and that women should only think with their lady parts.

          • fiona64

            Citations needed for all of this. Thanks in advance.

  • L-dan

    The initial intent of the phrase was to point out how similar Christian extremists are to the Muslim extremists they so vocally fear and hate, a way of holding up a mirror to reflect their hypocrisy. I think it was a useful comparison from the standpoint of “we think all attempts to create theocracy and force religiously based laws on people are bad.” It’s an attempt to throw their own inconsistent arguments at them “you hate Sharia/Taliban because ‘eek Muslim’, yet here you are enacting policies very like theirs, how do you justify that?”

    Seeing the burqa-clad Miss Texas there, however, is chilling. I think we’ve slipped past the point where the phrase has the meaning it began with and into the racist dogwhistle territory detailed above. I don’t know if it ever managed to incite some introspection in the folks on the right pushing repressive regulations, but at this point it’s something they just ignore, thus causing harm to others while failing to achieve the goal it was created with.

  • lady_black

    Sorry I need to disagree. Calling these people the American Taliban, or Christian Taliban is not an anti-Islam “dog whistle.” I have nothing against either Christians or Muslims, per se. I have something against anyone of any religious stripe attempting to rule with religion. As far as I can see, there is no appreciable difference. You know, other than choice of religious scriptures and lovely headgear. Religious extremism is every bit as distasteful regardless of particular brand. And the problem is that the misogynists are often the very same people who treat people of other religions with ugliness. Both the Afghanistan Taliban and it’s American Christian cousin.

    • goatini

      Great minds think alike, I just posted similar thoughts on this article.

      • marty59

        Great minds don’t think alike. Sheep in flocks think alike. When everyone thinks alike little good is usually the result.
        But feel free to think alike. The right wing is counting on it.

        • goatini

          My screen name might be a tip that I’m no “sheep”, and thanks (NOT) for the nasty condescension.

    • lvguest

      Well, accurately, and concisely said!

  • goatini

    I completely disagree, Andrea. I say, call the radical theocratic misogynistic fundamentalists of ALL stripes “Taliban”. If it was good enough for the excellent journalists John Allen Jr and Michael Sean Winters at the National Catholic Reporter, it is good enough for me. Mr Allen, and Mr Winters have rightly called out the radical theocratic misogynistic fundamentalists within the Church. As Mr Allen put it, “‘Taliban Catholicism’, then, is an exaggerated allergy to anything that smacks of secularism, liberalization, or corruption by modernity – an angry form of the faith that knows only how to excoriate and condemn.”

    It is an insult to thinking people to allege that calling ALL radical theocratic misogynistic fundamentalists is engaging in “Islamaphobia”. Thinking people understand very well that Islam is NOT equal to the Taliban. Thinking people know very well that the Taliban is a radical theocratic misogynistic fundamentalist sect that have ZERO to do with actual Islam – just as the Phelpses are a radical theocratic misogynistic fundamentalist sect that have ZERO to do with actual Christianity.

    • roccolore

      Liberals are the misogynists who attack women who CHOOSE not to abort.

      • dudebro

        Citation needed.

      • goatini

        Is it Opposite Day on Planet Forced Birth?

        Pro-CHOICE means Pro-CHOICE, whatever the woman’s choice is. But don’t troll reproductive justice social media and screech that YOUR choice not to abort means that everyone else MUST do the same.

      • Anna Sefalik

        As rational thought, this is pathetic.
        As a trolling effort, this is laughable.

  • Guest

    Surely there are quicker ways to say “I don’t know what a metaphor is” than writing this article.

  • vulgarism
    • colleen2

      as is Canon law. And canon law is what the 5 SCOTUS justices imposed with the HL decision.

  • StealthGaytheist

    I have to disagree with you. Calling bad Muslims bad isn’t racist, nor is making a perfectly valid comparison between bad Muslims and bad Christians.

    • Shan

      Yeah. Pointing out that the US Christian fundies are pretty much the same as the Talban ones..not a big stretch,

      • roccolore

        Pro-abortionists are the Taliban because they’re anti-Christian and anti-Jewish.

        • Shan

          Exactly! 2 + zebra ÷ glockenspiel = homeopathy works!

          Finally, someone GETS it!

          • Anna Sefalik

            Perfect response to an irrational troll.

  • kfreed

    There’s nothing racist or Islamophobic about calling out the distinct similarities between Christian fundamentalism and Muslim fundamentalism, both of which call for violence against their political opponents. We already have ample experience with the Islamic Taliban, so here’s the daily spew of the right-wing Christian version:

    The comparison is APT.

    Sorry lady, but we are currently faced with the takeover of one of America’s major political parties by religious fundamentalists, under the banner of the Tea Party, who collectively express an endorsement of government based on “biblical law” while simultaneously suggesting that the destruction of the federal government, including ALL its functions, is mandated by their perverted form of Christian dominionism. Not to mention, the decidedly anti-women, white supremacist, anti-civil rights bent of those currently legislating and basing judicial legal decisions based on their religious lunacy is a danger to us all.

    For an an overview of what the Tea Party means by “biblical law” have a look at the 2014 Texas Republican Party Platform (video):

    Complete PDF document:

    Tea Party candidate summary/report from People for the American Way circa 2010, there’s not a non-theocrat among them:

  • kfreed

    I think the consensus here, Ms. Grimes, is that you haven’t got a clue.

  • kfreed

    The latest from the Christian Taliban:

    “Abortion Protesters Interrupt Church Service, Tell Pro-Choice Worshippers To ‘Repent’”

  • Sacchinftw

    Sometimes you gotta get on your knees to see eye to eye with a child. Calling them brown shirts and John Birchs is nice and all, but they don’t even know what those are for it to be effective. Taliban is something in their vocabulary that surmises their desire for a theocratic state in one word.

    • fiona64

      Calling them brown shirts and John Birchs is nice and all, but they don’t even know what those are for it to be effective

      And all of this despite the fact that the Koch Bros., the money behind the “Tea Party,” inherited their money from their father … who founded the John Birch Society. That’s why I call them Teabirchers.

    • roccolore

      Democrats like you are anti-Christian and pro-Islam.

      • Sacchinftw

        Oh I assure you, Democrats like me find Islam to be just as crazy as Christianity.

  • Patrick

    Thanks for your unsolicited opinion, but I’ll stick with the phrase

  • Jake Harban

    Come on, srsly? Calling America’s extremists the Texas Taliban isn’t saying they literally ARE Muslim, it’s COMPARING them to Muslim extremists, pointing out that there’s basically no difference. Which isn’t exactly surprising since Christianity and Islam are essentially the same thing.

    • roccolore

      Liberals who hate Christianity are like the Muslim extremists.

      • Jake Harban

        Aw look, I’ve attracted my very own right wing nut job! He’s so cute! Can I keep him?

        • roccolore

          Left Wing Nut Jobs want to criminalize Christianity and any criticism of Islam.

          • fiona64

            Citation needed.

        • fiona64

          I’d be careful; you don’t know where it’s been, and I doubt it’s had its shots.

  • Jake Harban

    I think I can overlook people who are intolerant of bigots and extremists.

    • fiona64

      bigots and extremists

      Sounds like the Christian Dominionist movement to me …

  • Jumpmaster82

    I believe your overreacting and the basis for the new term is to vocalize that religions are basically one in the same when it concerns controlling people.
    The overt conduct or practices of some of these people, you must admit are very similar when conducted in the most extreme terms.
    Moderates are just that moderate and don’t suffer this enigma.
    Americans only became aware of the extremes of the Taliban and others in our recent war years.
    I think the extremist like some of the Taliban ways and started to act out on them, hence the term Texas Taliban and Christian Sharia. As for me your point is well taken.

  • fiona64

    There’s no need to try and incite fear that right-wing lawmakers are
    going to turn America into an extremist Islamic theocracy when they’re
    doing just fine turning it into an extremist Christian theocracy.

    This is why I always point out the same thing: fundamentalism of any stripe is the problem, not one specific “brand.”

  • David Priver

    I agree with lady_black. This has nothing to do with Islam. It’s a reference to our own home-grown terrorists.

  • Sarah Morison

    A study of all religious extremists of every stripe reveals one commonality — the subordination of women and obsessive control over their bodies. You’re right in that “Taliban” is shorthand, but it has never been anti-Muslim shorthand in my mind, but rather “anti-woman” shorthand.

    • Corey

      Any Abrahamic religion, most practiced being Judaism, Christianity and Islam, in their conservative “sects” or “versions”, are always anti-minority. That is just fact.

  • Corey

    The New American Taliban

    Problem is, the “American Taliban” has been used for decades and it is more acceptable than saying “Christian Terrorists”, which I believe is a more accurate characterization, however, the use of “terrorist” actually pisses off people more. So, I think the use of “Taliban”, as wrong and racist and inappropriate that it may be, it is more easily understood, and this means the least knowledgeable; FOX viewers among us get, the message. These people already believe every Muslim is a terrorist, as most believe gays rape children, FOX is “fair and balanced”, President Obama is a Socialist”, Reagan was a great president, etc., with social media and comment sections like this, when posting “American Taliban” and not “Christian Terrorist”, it is less of an attack on Christianity as a whole, less of a personal attack on most Americans (because most claim to be one kind of Christian even if they don’t “practice” it) and less offensive to those someone may me interacting with. You can not expect those who are uneducated to understand the difference between attacking a whole group of people, even though they are guilty of doing themselves. This is one of Americas short-sightings so to speak, because to the uneducated, America is “exceptional” and any group; minority, is a threat, so the more they are attacked, the more Patriotic the attackers believe they are, and anyone attacking them, even if its just their perception, and they are not being attacked, becomes the enemy, literally. Just as many white people during the civil rights era (some even today) believed the only good black person is a dead one, and anyone trying to help them who is white is just the same, the uneducated of today, feel the same about those not standing behind their “Patriotic” movement. Even Hitler’s cohorts used the tactic of stating peace- keepers and dissenters were the enemy. It’s a very successful tactic to use obviously!

  • Corey

    American Taliban:

    Updated January 25, 2007 and April 19, 2005 (originally published November 24, 2004)

    The “War on Terror” has provided Americans with a helpful introduction to theocracy. The fight against Al Qaeda, the war on the Taliban, and the growing tensions with the regime in Iran has offered a quick primer on the hallmarks of the religious state. First is the rule of religious authorities, whether it be Bin Laden’s new Caliphate, Mullah Omar’s Taliban regime, or the mullahs in Tehran. Second is the imposition of the faith’s sacred texts as law, in these cases, some variant of sharia law of the Koran. And last is the direct involvement of the state in the most minute and deeply personal aspects of individual lives, enforced by religious police, informed by spies, and punished severely (and often publicly).

    Now thanks to the Bush administration, a Republican Congress and the conservative ascendancy, Americans need not travel to Kandahar to learn about the perils of theocratic rule. Right here in the United States, a network of politicians, religious leaders, “faith-based” organizations and (literally) their amen corner are working overtime to make a particularly onerous concept of Christianity the de facto law of the land. Armed with the Bible in one hand and the Patriot Act in the other, George W. Bush and his GOP jihadists threaten to fundamentally change the role of government in monitoring Americans’ lives, liberties and even bodies.

    MORE: American Taliban:

    (Side note: though some of these people are not in the public eye and/or are dead and rotting in the ground being eaten by maggots, it DOES NOT mean they are gone for god, keep in mind; Bush #41, Dick-Head Cheney and Rummy all worked with and in circles that includes those of the like of Nixon and have been pissed since that time, that he was treated the way he was…and now they want revenge. ALWAYS keep in mind, there mythical god is indeed a revengeful and cruel god, they admire this, live for this, and the more people that suffer because if them, the happier they are. They truly are scum of the earth an always remember to treat them, and those like them, like that!)


    Quotes from the The American Taliban:

    “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren’t punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That’s war. And this is war.” ~ Anne Coulter

    “Yes, religion and politics do mix. America is a nation based on biblical principles. Christian values dominate our government. The test of those values is the Bible. Politicians who do not use the bible to guide their public and private lives do not belong in office.” ~ Beverly LaHaye (Concerned Women for America)


    • P. McCoy

      If one looks at the Christian extremists, if you will, blaming women for being raped or hit by men, or wanting to discourage two piece bathing suits, scooped neck blouses or dresses (women ‘tempt’ men by so called “immodesty”), OR wanting to control what you hear, read or see or what type of sex you have, that qualifies as a Taliban to me and by now most people know that the phrase refers to a movement towards a theocratic dictatorship and not a slur against Moslems.

  • Perr5

    I think Andrea has it right. Or, if I call someone a bitch, is it not misogynist because I’m actually only comparing them to that subset of ladies who are in fact bitches and I’m actually calling out bitchiness committed by anyone? No. It’s misogynist to use “bitch” that way, and I’ve gotten along just fine since I gave it up.

    • John H

      Had “bitch” started out as and were it generally understood as a self-appellation used by a group of people who had certain things in common (e.g. a particular formalized group of women who became known for asserting themselves or something) – as is the case with the Taliban – then I would agree that “bitch” would not be a misogynist insult. You’re attempting to make a case by using a very different term with a very different history and contemporary function, however.

      • Perr5

        The history of words is relevant, but I think it’s possible to turn someone’s positive self-appellation against them (and/or against people you associate with them). Also, I don’t think that, in the U.S. context, there is generally a subtle enough understanding of Muslims for “Taliban” to be harmless when used as outlined in the article above. Maybe things will change, but I think for now it just ends up tapping into—and thus reinforcing—existing stereotypes of Muslims and letting them do the work.

        • dudebro

          I think that you are correct.

          Unfortunately, Taliban is an easy shorthand, and it doesn’t require as much explaining as ‘christian dominionist/reconstructionist’ etc does. Most people don’t even know that OT style evangelicals even exist in the USA.The ones who want to stone gays to death.

    • VeggieTart

      I think you miss the point. “Bitch” has always been used as a slur against women who dared behave in ways sexist males don’t approve. Taliban was not intended to be a slur. It’s a universally accepted descriptor for theocratic Muslims who have a very strict (mis)interpretation of their religion. Progressives in the U.S., seeing what has happened to the Republican Party, began using it to describe Tea Party activists and those who wish to legislate their religious beliefs.

      • Perr5

        Why then isn’t it enough to call them Christian supremacists (/dominionists/etc)? What truly makes “Taliban” more apt than “Christian supremacist”?

        Also, however it started out, it’s meant as a slur when used in this way.

        • Anna Sefalik

          It is not a slur against Islam. It is a slur against radical theocrats.

          • Perr5

            I accept that it is intended that way, but I think in the current U.S. context it functions more broadly.

  • Dez

    See it’s the christian and muslim moderates that shield their extremists by always insisting that they do not represent their faith. Yet they stay silent as christian extremists in this country try to force their nonsense into our government. I blame moderates for their lack of action and letting the extremists get to this point. If moderates make up the majority of their faith, then why have the extremists been able to do all they have done if they are such a small minority? Either the moderates are weak or they silently agree. Until the moderates gain back control of the faith they will be swept up in the growing animosity against Christianity. Don’t like christans in the U.S. being synonymous with hatred and bigotry and being called the U.S. taliban, then do something about it. Us non-christians and atheists can not do the work for the moderates since we do not belong to the faith.

  • colleen2


  • colleen2

    The notion that we are expected to have tolerance for a religious/political movement and set of beliefs that is attempting to reduce us to chattel and impose a genuinely disgusting and irresponsible set of beliefs onto all of us is absurd and insulting.

    • colleen2

      Joe, I did not miss the point. I disagree with ‘the point’. Religious fundamentalism and it’s attendant evils are not exclusive to any race. It is a not a POV I agree with. The condescension of your response is breathtaking.

  • colleen2

    no we do not. Because NOT fighting back has VERY negative effects. WE will NOT have the beliefs of the American Taliban imposed upon us by the Republican party. ‘Such people’ are attempting to reduce us to chattel. Just as we are in your Bible.

  • John H

    This seems to me to miss the point of the comparison entirely. The Taliban aren’t the Taliban because they’re Islamic, per se, they’re the Taliban becasue they are a repressive patriarchal theocratic political party. The ‘American Taliban’ are the same, but Christian instead of Muslim. Can this metaphor be deployed in racist ways? Sure. That doesn’t make it intrinsically/universally racist. This may also be a case of one person (or group of people) who sees the primary (or at least a necessary) defining aspect of the Taliban as Islam, while another group of people sees their defining traits as oppressive theocrats, without the particular religion being important.

    When a white person cries “Texas Taliban!” or “American Taliban!” what
    they’re saying is “I thought only brown people deserved to be
    oppressed.” They’re saying, “My whiteness was supposed to insulate me
    from things like this.” They’re saying, “I’m afraid—for my privilege.”

    I’m not sure this makes any sense. The only way the comparison plays as an epithet is if one thinks the Taliban are bad, which means one necessarily thinks Brown people do not deserve to be oppressed. No? Comparing a group of theocratic extremists to a well-known group of theocratic extremists is like comparing an actual fascist group to Nazis – it’s basically the one case in which it IS okay to do so. As for being afraid of losing one’s privilege: it’s bad when one wants to hold on to privilege qua privilege, when one wishes to maintain an advantage. It’s not bad when one wishes to retain certain specific rights and freedoms, ones which ought to (and can) be universal but are unfortunately contingent upon privilege in the present context. Whenever possible, we should strive to dismantle systems of privilege by making everyone (or nearly everyone) better-off instead of trying to force the privileged into the position of the marginalized. It’s the difference between being afraid of losing one’s privilege and being afraid of losing specific rights/freedoms that happen to be but do not necessarily need to be (and should not be) functions of existing structures of social privilege.

    If you get to the end of this piece and you’re raring for a fight so that
    you can continue to holler “Taliban!” every time a white Christian man
    rails against birth control, I want you to ask yourself: Why am I so invested in being able to continue using this word?

    I’m not, but I still disagree. I don’t actually use it myself, perhaps becasue I had been using the word “theocrats” long before I ever heard of the Taliban. I do think your analysis is way off base and does not accurately reflect how the term “American Taliban” and its variants are actually deployed most of the time. I could be wrong becasue I am limited to my own social sphere, but providing a single anecdote as evidence for your read doesn’t really make it any more likely to be the correct one (or the one that is correct in more cases) than mine. Seriously, is it wrong to call American White supremacists who want to kill Jews (and members of other “mongrel races”) “Nazis” simply becasue they are not directly associated with that specific historical socio-political movement in 20th Century Germany? The similarities between actual historical German Nazis and contemporary neo-Nazis here in USA are about as extensive as the similarities between Christian theocrats here in USA and the Taliban, right down to targeting the same particular marginalized groups for oppression – both groups of Nazis hate non-Aryans and especially Jews; both groups of Taliban hate women and gay people and generally anyone who doesn’t subscribe to their fundamentalists faiths.

  • sounder

    “American (Christian) Taliban” hate individual freedoms.

  • Charles Almon

    The “CHRISTIAN TALIBAN” would be more accurate,
    Thank you Ms. Grimes.

  • SD

    First of all, it is very sad and very wrong that it is now completely socially acceptable in this country to discriminate against Muslims. It is basically a case of us becoming the thing we are supposed to be against.
    And that is exactly why people use the word “Taliban” to describe some among the Christian right. It is because they are taking fundamentalist, extremist, Christian views, just as the Taliban take fundamentalist, extremist, Muslim views. It is because these certain Christians are using the Bible to justify “oppression” the same way certain Muslims are using the Quran to justify oppression.
    It would be beneficial for us to realize that not all Muslims are extremists. We seem to realize that not all Christians are extremists. Comparing our own religious extremists to the Taliban should actually help to get that message across.
    But the whole reason this idea of a “Christian Taliban” has come about is as an illustration of the hypocrisy of this “Christian” movement.
    Personally, I don’t think I have ever used the terms American Taliban or Christian Taliban. I see this author’s point, but I do not believe it is as serious a concern as she makes it out to be.

    • grandpatimbo

      Why not refer to the assorted tea baggers and Evangelicals as “Fundamoron”? No racism, no inducing fear – just stating the truth.

  • Christina

    Its a racist comment? Its truth. What does the real Taliban call for ? Sharia law for women. Strict with no mercy .Under it womens rights are a JOKE. Islamophobia? take a good look on the internet what Extremist Islam is doing for women in Afghanistan, and Iraq. If you defend Islams definition of peace with the current extremist violence going on in Syria ,Iraq and Afghanistan you are seriously delusional. Extremist Christians in this country would love to turn America into a theocracy. They continually try to repeal womens rights over themselves based on “biblical values” when those same biblical values include FREEWILL just like our First Amendment includes Freedom of religion. Unfortunately for us we have some religious people in our government who do not respect a womans right to live her faith as she sees fit. We are not second class citizens. We have full rights. I’m never ever going to be willing to let some smarmy male politician legislate away any rights for me and my sisters ( however they choose to exercise them). All of them deserve to be fired for violating their oaths of office and pushing their own personal religious views while on the federal (public ) payroll .To me They are the Christian Taliban. I make it my business every time itsa time to vote I make it count by voting for what I know our Constitution stands for Freedom and fairness not religious tyranny. Please read the first amendment and then the establishment clause. Hobby Lobby SUCKS!

  • blfdjlj

    Yawn…. “Islamophobia”? White people vs. non whites? This 1960s-mentality needs to end. Many if not most Muslims are white. Many traditional Christians are not white.

    The Taliban comparison is bad for another reason – Christian traditionalists are nowhere near as bad as Islamists. Even most conservative Christians will accept women revealing their faces and hair, going to school, working, driving, interacting with members of the other sex etc. The Taliban comparison is a joke.

    • Anna Sefalik

      The Taliban comparison refers to imposing a religious belief on secular law. Telling me that it is matter of degree doesn’t work. The Christian Taliban/Dominionists have been taking baby steps towards their admitted goal of imposing their religious view on civil law. This is unacceptable. Waiting until it reaches the point where laws imposes such restrictions on wmen is not acceptable.
      It must stop now.

      • blfdjlj

        Fundamentalism refers to a viewpoint where religious beliefs are enshrined into law. Yes, some Christian conservatives are headed in that direction, but I’m not sure whether that’s a majority viewpoint. It seems more common that traditional Christians could be content with religious exemptions (not being forced to make cakes for gay weddings, provide birth control in insurance plans etc.)

  • shirleythomas

    i prefer religious terrorists

  • Russell Manning

    I find these outre religious groups becoming more and more disdainful of anything other than their own extremist beliefs; yes, they are our form of the Taliban. And while they may not shoot a 15 year-old female student as she was going to school because women should be educated, they have their own methods of assault, which may, by comparison, appear a bit more civilized. But they are zealots and there is no reasoning with those whose beliefs rely solely on faith. They are dangerous, very dangerous, and the nation should read and those of us who are older should re-read Sinclair Lewis’ “Elmer Gantry.” The reason I suggest that novel is because like Elmer, these preachers and church leaders are phonies and money grubbers, control-freaks, and in many cases, sociopaths.

    • dudebro

      They believe that women’s bodies are property, and are desperately trying to reclaim the power that they once had over women.

  • God and the Bear

    I dont think she understands how people are using this phrase. I doubt it has anything to do with islam or muslims but more about the religious fervor they are displaying with christianity and what we dont want it to escalate to. Are we to deny now that Iraq theyre fighting within the religion just like catholics and protestants did at one point in history so it is possible.


    How about fascist terrorist Nazis???

    • Anna Sefalik


  • kathy smelser

    Sometimes the truth hurts / they are no different than the Taliban / their sic ultra agenda fits the Taliban ,,We should be protected from them

    • Charles

      Which American “Taliban” has proposed barring girls from attending school?

      • fiona64

        Vision Forum, among others.

        • Charles

          Nope, not even Doug Phillips has said: “Don’t send girls to school.”

          • fiona64

            You can just go read the sources I put up in another post, sugarplum.

          • Charles

            Not seeing it yet, dear.

          • fiona64

            Well, then, perhaps you can seek either a competent optometrist or literacy counseling.

          • goatini

            Wrong. The late unlamented Vision Forum believes* that females should not attend college. At all. Even for any kind of “religious studies”. Vision Forum believes that females should be “keepers at home”, assiduously practicing meek and uncomplaining submission and subjugation with “Daddy” as stand-in for the future (selected by Daddy) hubby.

            * I say “believes” as regards the defunct organization, because the merch and associated propaganda part of the cult is still in business.

          • Charles

            Fine. Not even Doug Phillips has said: “Don’t send girls to elementary school.”

          • goatini

            The Taliban prohibits females from obtaining higher education, just like Doug Phillips prohibits females from obtaining higher education.

            In the parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan where the Taliban hold power, elementary school is the ONLY level of schooling that most females even get an opportunity to possibly attend. It is very difficult for females to obtain any higher level of education.

            The point is being made here that a radical theocratic “Christian” cult right here in the United States forbids females to obtain higher education.

  • dzerres

    Sorry, hating the Taliban is not the same as Islamaphobia. Calling these right wingers the “American Taliban” is appropriate because they can’t seem to get it into the fat heads what they want to do with our govt is EXACTLY what we were fighting against in Afganistan for the last 12 years. These people are so slow on the uptake and so ignorant of history, the Constitution and world events that they need to be insulted this way to maybe shake them out of their single wide trailer induced religious zealotry.

    • Charles

      No American Christian wants to prevent girls from attending school. Try again.

      • fiona64

        Really? You don’t get out much.


        Compare this to remarks made by Vision Forum President Doug Phillips on the Stay at Home Daughters Movement:

        Daughters aren’t to be independent. They’re not to act outside the
of their father. As long as they’re under the authority of their
        fathers, fathers have the ability to nullify or not the oaths and the
        vows. Daughters can’t just go out 
independently and say, ‘I’m going to
        marry whoever I want.’ No. The father has 
the ability to say, ‘No, I’m
        sorry, that has to be approved by me.’

        • Charles

          That has nothing to do with SCHOOL. Try again.

          • fiona64

            You could actually read the article … but I know, facts are hard. The Christian Patriarchy movement is very much against educating girls.

            Quote, ibid: Christian Patriarchy advocates, such as Doug Phillips, don’t believe girls should go to college and instead stay at home until their father’s pick a spouse for them.

            Just a few more sources about fundamentalist Christian objections to female education:


            Quote: In a nutshell, the leaders of the Christian Patriarchy movement teach that daughters should be educated for their role as wives, mothers, teachers-at-home, and Proverbs 31 women, but not educated for careers outside of the home.


            Quote: The stay-at-home-daughters movement, which is promoted by Vision Forum, encourages young girls and single women to forgo college and outside employment in favor of training as “keepers at home” until they marry. Young women pursuing their own ambitions and goals are viewed as selfish
            and antifamily; marriage is not a choice or one piece of a larger life plan, but the ultimate goal. Stay-at-home daughters spend their days learning “advanced homemaking” skills, such as cooking and sewing, and other skills that at one time were a necessity — knitting, crocheting, soap- and candle-making. A father is considered his daughter’s authority until he transfers control to her husband.

            The creepy, grifting Duggars are a splendid example of Christian Patriarchy in action, BTW.


            The “pitch” of Biblical patriarchy, as epitomized by Michelle Duggar, is that women will be coddled and worshipped in exchange for giving up their ambitions and the autonomy to practice an extreme form of female submission. The unpleasant truth is that a culture that teaches that women are put on Earth for no other purpose but to serve men is not going to breed respect for women. Instead, these incidents show a world where men believe they can do whatever they want to women without
            repercussions. Is it any surprise that a subculture that promises
            absolute control over women will attract men who want to dominate and hurt women? Don’t believe the TLC hype. Biblical patriarchy is a sour, dangerous world for women, and luckily, that reality is finally being outed.

          • Charles

            Jill Duggar was actually taking midwife courses (post high school level) which after 3 ½ years of schooling, would give her the education to become a licensed, Certified Professional Midwife (CPM). Get your facts straight.

          • fiona64

            You mean those on-line courses from diploma mills? Yep, I know … and that only happened after the huge public hue and cry when Jim-Bob said that his daughters didn’t need college because homemaking required no education.

            Certified nurse midwives are very concerned about these so-called CPMs, also called direct-entry midwives, who have no nursing background whatsoever. You need to get YOUR facts straight.

            Jill Duggar is not now, nor will she be, qualified to do diddly-squat except hold some woman’s hand and tell her to push. In other words, the same thing as any Lamaze labor partner. Just more grifting from the Duggar family.

          • Jennifer Starr

            Actually, it has quite a lot to do with it.

          • goatini

            Of course it does. The daughters don’t get to go to college. They get to be, ahem, “keepers at home”, practicing cheerful, uncomplaining submission and subjugation with Daddy playing the stand-in for the future (selected by Daddy) hubby. Presumably not while he’s carrying on his long-term affair with the nanny. (Phillips is in a world of well-deserved trouble.)

          • Charles

            Lots of MALES don’t get to go to college either (see inductees in the U.S. military, as just one example). The Taliban was against sending girls to ELEMENTARY school as well. That’s what I was referring to.

          • goatini

            Terrible analogy. Males in your example are not FORBIDDEN from attending college by an ultimate authority figure. And males who have attended college may also enter the US Armed Forces.

            As for your “shut up and be grateful” BS, in the parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan where the Taliban hold power, elementary school is the ONLY level of schooling that most females even get an opportunity to possibly attend. It is very difficult for females to obtain any higher level of education.

            The point is being made here that a radical theocratic “Christian” cult right here in the United States forbids females to obtain higher education.

          • Charles

            I never posted “shut up and be grateful”.

          • goatini

            Of course you did. American females should just shut up and be grateful that they are “allowed” to attend school. That’s the entire gist of your nonsense posts.

    • Charles

      You ADMIT to hating American Taliban.

      • Anna Sefalik

        What’s your point?

  • DFW

    The Taliban doesn’t represent all of Islam. What they DO represent is an intolerance, and a society ruled by control freaks using religion as an excuse to justify their absolute power over everyone under their rule. They say they speak and act on the behalf of “God/Allah,” who conveniently wants what they want, but whose intentions are unimpeachable.

    That correctly describes both the Taliban and the loudest and least tolerant of our so-called “Christian activists.” The analogy is accurate. No true follower of Islam need be offended by it–nor any true follower of Christ, for that matter.

  • OldWoman

    I have a serious question. I understand the desire to separate Muslim hatred from the anti-choice, even if the descriptor seems accurate. But isn’t the extremism of both parties what makes them abhorrent?

    And, by the way, I’ve been referring to the American idiots as the Religious Reich. I can’t understand why some of them take offense….

  • Bob Smetters

    In 1998, Mike Huckabee [and other religious leaders] put his name to a full page ad in USA Today that proclaimed his belief that women should be subservient. Huckabee also not long ago told reporters that every American should be forced AT GUNPOINT to listen to David Barton speak. Barton is an advocate of legislating religion. You tell me Mike Huckabee is not the American version of the Taliban, and I will call you a liar.

  • Bob Smetters

    “‘I just wish that every single young person in America would be able to be under his tutelage and understand something about who we really are as a nation. I almost wish that there would be something like a simultaneous telecast and all Americans would be forced, forced — at gun point no less — to listen to every David Barton message. And I think our country would be better for it. I wish it’d happen.” — Mike Huckabee on his friend David Barton, who is an advocate for legislating religion into our laws. THE AMERICAN TALIBAN IS ALIVE AND WELL.

  • roccolore

    Liberals are the Taliban because they are anti-Jewish, anti-Christian, pro-Islam, and hate our troops.

    • dudebro

      Citation needed.

  • goatini

    Aaaaaaand… it’s “Shut Up And Be Grateful” time.

  • Anna Sefalik

    Andrea Grimes completely misses the point of using the term “Christian Taliban.”

    The Taliban is not just some Islamic religious organization. The Taliban is an organization dedicated to imposing its particular interpretation of Islam in a theocracy.

    The phrase “Christian Taliban” is intended to evoke the sense of imposition of religion on state matters–and particularly one religion, and more specifically, a narrow interpretation of that religion.

    The five Christians who made the ruling that allowed a store owner (Hobby Lobby’s Green family) to supersede and circumvent law, and validated an unscientific rationale based on “sincere belief” were acting in a manner consistent with Taliban principles.

    This has nothing to do with Islamophobia. Many of us are ardent defenders of the religious rights of those who are Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Wiccans, Satanists–and yes, even Christians–until any of them attempt to impose their religion on our civil rights.

    This blog was well-meaning, but ill-conceived.

  • Anna Sefalik

    You DO know that we do NOT have a “Christian government,” right?
    You DO know that the Constitution was written to avoid favoring any one religion–including Christianity–over any other, right?
    You DO know that several of the framers of the Constitution were not Christians, right?
    You DO know that the people referred to by the phrase Christian Taliban” are those who are doing exactly what the Islamic Taliban is doing: taking an extreme (and decidedly misogynistic) interpretation of their religion, and attempting to impose it as civil law, right?
    You DO know that your assertion of Christian supremacy is exactly the problem, right?
    Guess not.